Towards Our Time, Hokkaido Museum

Over the past hundred years, which have included major wars, our ways of life, social structure, and relationship with nature have changed greatly. What manner of things have we experienced, and how have these experiences shaped our current way of living? Let us consider the various activities and observations of humans while we think together about Hokkaido’s present, and gain insights towards its future.

The Asian Wars and Hokkaido
Wooden Fighter Plane Prototype Main Wing and Auxiliary Fuel Tank
The wing (two-thirds of the main right wing) and the auxiliary fuel tank hanging from the ceiling at center were components of a wooden ¬ghter plane prototype created at the Industrial Research Institute of the Hokkaido Research Organization between 1943 and 1944. This was near the end of the Paci¬c War and demonstrated that Japan was attempting to continue the war e ort despite its lack of resources.

The Asia-Paci¬c War killed and injured countless people. Here, we will take a closer look at this changing time period while considering the people and areas of the Asia-Paci¬c region a ected by Japan.

During World War I, Europe’s logistics network was cut o and once products from Hokkaido made their way to other parts of the world, the trading port of Otaru experienced rapid growth. The activities of labor unions involving people who worked at the port also became prevalent. The labor strikes of 1927 that began in Otaru Port and spread throughout the city gained support from across Japan. Noted author Takiji Kobayashi would write about their work and life. However, the Public Peace Preservation Act was promulgated following the start of general elections. As a result, a Special Higher Police was mobilized to vigorously suppress these movements and soon a time of war would be upon Japan.

In 1931, Japan was involved in the Manchurian Incident and in 1937, all-out war broke out between Japan and China. The year before, in 1936, the February 26 Incident occurred, becoming a harbinger of a new war, as evidenced by special army training drills being held on Hokkaido’s Ishikari Plains. As the Second Sino-Japanese War became protracted, political parties were disbanded and the Imperial Aid Association was established in 1940, organizing people into neighborhood community associations. Eventually this would stain all aspects of schools, workplaces, and communities with the color of war

War spread to Southeast Asia and the Western Paci¬c, becoming a major con ict involving multiple countries. Around this time many people were sent from Hokkaido to Manchuria, while people from the Korean Peninsula were forcibly brought to work in the mines and on civil engineering projects in Hokkaido. After the fall of Attu Island, American submarines began to wage war on ships in the waters surrounding Hokkaido. Once Okinawa fell in 1945, Honshu and Hokkaido both were exposed to bombing raids by American forces.

After Japan’s surrender in 1945, a large number of Japanese military personnel and civilians began to repatriate from the battle¬eld and occupied areas, resulting in food shortages. This led the government to once again focus on the development of Hokkaido. Many people in Japan welcomed the new constitution that contained a clause against warfare and maintaining war capabilities. However, in 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War resulted in the creation of the National Police Reserve (which would later become the Self-Defense Force). The following year, the treaty of peace was signed together with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which resulted in American forces being stationed permanently in Japan. Soon the shadow of the Cold War involving the United States and Soviet Union would engulf Japan.

Opposition to Military Drills, General Elections, and the Public Peace Preservation Act
The extent of the damage su ered during World War I resulted in the ideals of disarmament, democracy and communism spreading around the world. Public debate about labor movements and disarmament began to take place in Japan, too, and general elections were held. However, the Special Higher Police mobilized under the Public Peace Preservation Act vigorously suppressed communist, worker and student movements. In 1925, problems arose with military drills conducted at Otaru Higher Commercial School and students called upon other students from all parts of Japan to vehemently oppose such drills.

The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and Military Base Issues
As the shadow of the Cold War engulfed Japan, Hokkaido and Okinawa forcibly became the front lines of the con ict in Asia. Community members living near bases and training areas for the U.S. Armed Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces protested and in 1960, a movement to throw out the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty spread nationwide. Court cases in Eniwa and Naganuma debated the Self-Defense Forces and Constitution, while live weapon drills still remain a problem in Yausubetsu to this day.

The Era of Rapid Economic Growth
Endangered Way of Life
The sewing machine (1950), the electric washing machine (1956), the portable TV (1965), and the 8mm video camera and projector set (1969). These were all either the grand prize or frst prize in their respective year for the New Year’s postcard lottery, one of Japan’s seasonal traditions. TV broadcasting began in 1953, while the 1964 Tokyo Olympics helped to increase the popularity of the color TV. From the late 1950s to today, many products in our lives have changed a great deal.

To restore Japan’s post-war economy, high expectations were placed on Hokkaido to absorb the population of repatriates, supply food to alleviate food shortages, and develop its natural resources. The Hokkaido Development Act of 1950 called for the start of Phase I of the Comprehensive Development Plan of Hokkaido in 1952. This plan emphasized industrial development, including the creation of infrastructure such as dams, roads, ports and river embankments, increased food production, and construction of housing. This plan also focused on increasing coal production because it was seen as the key to restoring industry. Under the protection of the government, Hokkaido’s coal industry would grow considerably. In the late 1950s, the government shifted its energy policy from coal to petroleum, resulting in vast imports of petroleum. This petroleum was used to make gasoline, plastics and other products essential to our everyday lives. The coal industry faded rapidly after losing the competition battle with cheaper petroleum. As a result, Hokkaido’s coal mines began to close one after another.

As economic development progressed, the people of Japan also saw great changes occurring in their way of life. Soon vast quantities of manufactured products would inundate Japan, resulting in the belief that consumerism is a virtue. This created the perception among people that it was acceptable to purchase new items and throw away old ones. Hand-made daily essentials, fshing gear and agricultural tools were soon replaced by manufactured products, and home electronics soon became widespread, popularized by the “three sacred treasures” of the TV, washing machine, and refrigerator. This was also the time when pitched-roof houses began to emerge as a countermeasure against Hokkaido’s harsh winters. As roads developed, automobiles rapidly became available expanding peoples’ range of activities, but in turn causing a downturn in railway passenger trafc, forcing the closure of local lines on the island.

During this time more people began to speak up in campaigns against regional development, pollution and discrimination. In concert with other movements in Japan and internationally, workers, students, women and local community members stood up to move these eforts forward.

Changes in Hokkaido Housing
In 1947, Toshibumi Tanaka was elected as the frst governor of Hokkaido. One of his most important policies focused on the development of cold-climate homes tailored to the needs of life in Hokkaido. The goal of this development was to build low cost housing that could ward of the cold and provide comfortable, somewhat spacious living spaces. To achieve this goal, the pitched-roof house was eventually designed. This house features exterior walls constructed of concrete blocks made of cement, sand, and pebbles, to prevent heat loss, no hallways, and the use of the attic space as a room.

Voices to Remember
During its period of rapid economic growth, environmental destruction and pollution became major problems facing Japan. This was also a time when information from around the world began to fnd its way to Japan as well. During the 1960s, especially, people in Japan actively participated in movements to change the world, voicing their opinions against these social problems. These people included those asserting that environmental protection should take precedence over rapid development. Others included those whose rights had been forgotten or trampled upon during development, such as women, the Ainu, people of Korean descent and the disabled. In what ways did these voices infuence Japan today?

Creating Today and the Future


Labors, Farmers and Takiji Kobayashi
The support for the Isono farm tenancy meetings and docker’s dispute had continued in Otaru in 1927. The dispute by farmers and labors had a big support from both inside and outside Hokkaido. Takiji Kobayashi, a well known Japanese writer, worked his way through Otaru higher commercial school(currently Otaru University of Commerce) and became a banker at the Hokkaido Takushoku Bank Otaru branch. As well as working as a banker, he supported these disputes and wrote about the harsh working conditions in Hokkaido and Hokuyo.

Wooden Fighter Plane Prototype Main Wing and Auxiliary Fuel Tank
The wing (two-thirds of the main right wing) and the auxiliary fuel tank hanging from the ceiling at center were components of a wooden fighter plane prototype created at the Industrial Research Institute of the Hokkaido Research Organization between 1943 and 1944. This was near the end of the Pacific War and demonstrated that Japan was attempting to continue the war effort despite its lack of resources.

A Poster Displaying the First Term The First Five-Year of a Comprehensive Development Plan of Hokkaido
This is the poster displaying the First Term the First Five-Year of A Comprehensive Development Plan of Hokkaido, which started in 1952. At the time, people were looking forward to post war economic recovery. Important plans printed in this poster were ones to increase food production, researching and development of underground resources, public transportations improvement and development of power resources such as dam construction.

Small, Lightweight Paddy Field Tractor
This tractor was produced by ISEKI & CO., LTD and started selling in 1967. It has an overall length of 2,600mm, an overall height of 1,370mm, and an overall width of 1,370mm. It was equipped with a two-cylinder air cooling diesel engine made by the Kawasaki Aircraft Company. It had an engine capacity of 822 cc.

The Dream Car “Publica” by Toyota
This car was produced by Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. (present-day Toyota Motor Corporation) in1961. The name was chosen from submissions from the public. The body has an overall length of 3,585mm, an overall height of 1,380mm and an overall width of 1,425mm. The vehicle body weight was 600 kg and it was equipped with an air cooling two-cylinder horizontally opposed engine. The engine capacity was 697 cc and the maximum speed was 110km.

Electric Washing Machine
Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd. (present-day Toshiba Corporation) produced this VQ-3 automatic reversal jet styled washing machine in 1957. This washing machine has a roller type dryer. By putting washed clothes between these two rubber rollers you can then wring the water out by turning the handle.

Television broadcast started in 1953. In 1956, NHK Sapporo TV station was opened and broadcasting began in Hokkaido too. Televisions, refrigerators and washing machines, these three home electronic appliances were the”Three Sacred Treasures” at the time. One popular TV program at the time when the broadcast begun was the live coverage of wrestling and sumo. It was common to see a gathering of people in front of street televisions or any other facilities with televisions. After the crown prince wedding in 1959 and the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, televisions were widely spread to Japanese families.

Tetsujin 28-Go and Kewpie doll
In the high economic growth period, many toys made out of plastic and vinyl were mass produced. The main characters from popular comic books and sports players were often the models of those toys. Tetsujin 28-Go was serialized in Monthly Boys Manga Magazine Shonen in1956. Kewpie dolls were already imported to Japan in the Taisho era and has been loved by many even now.

Facial Beauty Instrument
This ultrasonic facial beauty instrument was produced by Corona Industries LTD. starting in 1974. According to the company’s blog post, even though the sales price at the time was 39,800 yen, which was considered expensive, it was a big hit and sold 1.5 million units in two years.

Hokkaido Museum
Hokkaido Museum, aka Mori no Charenga, is a museum introducing the nature, history and culture of Hokkaido.Hokkaido Museum opened in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan in 2015. Located within Nopporo Shinrin Kōen Prefectural Natural Park.

Most of the permanent exhibitions are history-related, including archeology, and folklore-related. Educational activities are being conducted in both the humanities and natural history fields.

The museum integrates and replaces the Historical Museum of Hokkaido, which opened in 1971, and the Hokkaido Ainu Culture Research Centre.

It also collects and preserves materials that represent a precious treasure of the people of Hokkaido, and conducts exhibitions, educational activities and events.